Track and field starts season on the right note

When teams start the season ranked in the top 10, they typically come out of the gate running, winning their first meets without a hiccup.

The No. 4 ASU men’s indoor track and field have done just that. The track team has won its first three meets to continually climb the national ladder of the polls.

After starting the season ranked at No. 6, coach Greg Kraft’s men’s team broke the top five a week after its domination of NAU in Flagstaff on Jan. 12.

The rise of redshirt junior sprinter Ryan Milus has added another factor to the men’s team. Milus won his first two meets at NAU and Texas A&M.; While Milus did finish second in the Sun Devils’ third meet, he has still continued to improve his times each and every race thus far.

Milus is also currently ranked No. 2 in the country in the 60-meter.

Returning national champ redshirt senior thrower Jordan Clarke, however, is still the pride of the men’s track and field team. Clarke hopes to get back to helping the squad after sitting out the past two meets with a hand injury.

Senior Nick Happe, senior Chris Benard and redshirt junior Derick Hinch are also beginning to dominate their respective events, taking pressure off of the rest of the competitors to carry the team.

Redshirt freshman sprinter Devan Spann is slowly coming into his own, turning his talents as a football player into a top-notch runner. Spann is filling the shoes of senior Rashad Ross, who turned his focus to the NFL Draft.

Women on the rise

Senior multi-competitor Keia Pinnick continues to crush the competition, winning the majority of her events, including the pentathlon at Texas A&M.;

Pinnick currently ranks No. 21 in the 60-meter hurdles and No. 2 in the pentathlon.

“I’m happy with my performances so far, but not content nor settling,” Pinnick said. “I have so much more room to build and improve that I hardly want to even linger on what I have done so far. My expectations are high.”

While remaining on top is important to Pinnick, nothing means more than winning a national championship.

“The team is expecting to get to nationals and gradually show what we can actually do throughout the indoor season,” Pinnick said. “Our women need to continue supporting one another, work harder, build strong mindsets and continue competing to win everything and every event we compete in.”

The women’s team began the season unranked and expected to experience a successful, rebuilding season. That expectation is already beginning to be exceeded and the women’s team has climbed 14 spots to No. 17 in the country.

Sophomores Brianna Tate and Shelby Houlihan, juniors Anna Jelmini and Christabel Nettey and senior Chelsea Cassulo are recording great times and throws to move the Sun Devil women up the rankings.

The return of junior pole-vaulter Shaylah Simpson could be ASU’s athlete that is overlooked. If Simpson can continue to rack up victories and high-quality jumps, the Sun Devils could see themselves within the top 10 in no time.

“We aren’t at our full potential yet, so there’s still technical errors and still strength to be built within our team,” Pinnick said.

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